Chickens in a dog run...will it work?


10 Years
Sep 27, 2009
I'm expecting 6 chicks from MPC next week and I want to make sure my plans are going to work.

Along the side of my house is a side yard that was previously used a dog run. So one side is the house, the front is a wood fence, the side is a wood fence that seperates us from our neighbor, and the back is a chainlink fence/gate that leads into the back yard. All fencing is secure and 8 feet tall. The entire run is about 8 feet wide by 40 feet deep.

In the dog run is a large dog house that I'd like to make into a coop. To do this I'll make the roof on hinges so that it can be opened easily and latched to the side of our house. The dog house is about 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep. It's up off the gound by about 9 inches.

In the run is grass and weeds and a large plum tree that makes a lot of shade.

Because the run is between two homes it's not really able to be seen from the sky so I dont think hawks are going to easily see the chickens.

I'd like to open the chainlink fence and let the chickens have the run of the backyard during the day. The entire yard is surrounded by a secure 8 foot tall fence.

So, I'd like to know if you think this is a good home for the chickens or if there's anything I need to change to make it better suited for them.

Do I need to lock them inside the doghouse at night or will it suffice to just lock them in the dogrun?

Do I need to cut out sides from the dog house to allow more airflow?

Do I need to cover the dogrun with anything?

I'm in Sounthern Ca. The predators I can think of would be redtail hawks, coyotes, racoons, and possums. I've never seen any of them around the yard though.
This sounds like almost the exact setup that I have.

Yes, converting the doghouse to a chickencoop is a wonderful idea, and since you are in Southern CA, you really don't need to worry about insulation!
YES, you will need to drill vent holes.... if the roof extends past the sides of the doghouse, you can get a special bit that fits in a drill and it will drill circular holes. I would drill holes all along the top of the sides (under the overhang if it does). If you are worried about weasels or such, you can then cover the holes with a bit of wire mesh.
I would DEFINITELY recommend shutting them in the coop at night. When it gets dark, chickens crouch down and go to sleep. They are practically comatose, and would not react to a predator. I have picked up and moved chickens at night, who have fallen asleep in the middle of the yard, and even the wildest bird is a lump of non-moving feathers in the dark.

If your wood fence has openings between the slats, tack up chickenwire to prevent them from "popping" through. We have a couple of popcorn chickens that are still small enought to pop through chainlink, and they pop back and through all day long.

With the fences and the tree and the houses, I don't think hawks will be much of a danger, because they reall wouldn't have enough room to swoop in, grab a bird, and swoop out of the dog run.

I have the same option of letting my flock out of the dog run into my fenced yard, and I do so every day. They love to be out foraging. I have lost 2 birds to hawks when they were out in the big yard, but I also live in a very rural area with large fields around me, which means I see hawks all of the time. I would think you'd be OK.

Enjoy your chickies, and I am sure they will love their run once they are big enough to go outside!

Oh, one other thing I thought of, you will want to provide some nesting boxes when the girls get old enough to lay. You can buy fancy ones online, or you can do it for cheap. I discovered that a covered cat litter pan works fabulously (the 2 part that you latch together), and since they are plastic, they are a breeze to clean. Good luck!
Sounds good. My only hesitation would be the unfenced top, since raccoons can climb fences. I used a dog run and it's worked very well. Also, depending on what type of chickens you have, you may want hardware cloth instead of chicken wire or at least very small chicken wire. I found out my silkie chicks can fit through 1" chicken wire holes.
Our run is a chain link dog run. We had to cover the bottom half all the way around with chicken wire because a raccoon reached through the chain link and ripped heads off three chickens who were dumb enough to come up to the fence. The combination of chain link covered with chicken wire seems to have stopped any further attacks. Haven't had any problems with anything climbing up the chain link and coming over the top, but then we have chicken wire over the top of the run also.
You say the run is between two homes? Are your neighbors cool about this?

Just six chickens shouldn't be a problem because that is a HUGE space for so few birds. They'll be in seventh heaven. Unless there's a rooster, or unless your neighbors are twitchy about chickens, since of course we all know that chickens are "farm animals" and maybe you live in the "city" or the "fancy suburbs" where "farm animals" are SOOO totally inappropriate, dahling, and so on and so on. We all know the drill.
We are also in southern CA and used a part of an existing dog run for our set-up. It's a little hard to see, but the perimeter fencing of the dog run is off to the left:


About 10-15 ft to the left of that fence is our property line fence and on the other side of that is a lane that serves as a driveway for two neighbors.

Key to the success (so far) of what we've done is 1) putting a roof on the pen and 2) building a true coop that is as close as we could make it to Ft. Knox. The chickens can go freely and safely between the coop and their pen all day long and then we close them in the coop at night.

I let them "free-range" in the larger dog run area when I'm out there with them. So far, so good, no problems.

ETA: this photo of the pen is previous to completion so the tunnel to the coop (which is off to the right) isn't there)
Last edited:

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom